Bedfordshire Record Office, known as Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, was the first Archives in England, being established by Dr George Herbert Fowler in 1913.
They hold resources relating to the county from 1166 to the present day. Documents come from a wide range of sources, from private individuals to organisations.
These records include parish registers, nonconformist church registers, cemetery records, census returns, motor vehicle licencing records, Turnpike Trust records, quarter sessions, newspapers, property records and personal papers of some local servicemen.
Their aims are to collect and preserve documents in environmentally controlled and secure conditions, to promote and encourage community and public access to these archives and to encourage use of the resources for recreational, cultural, educational or business use.
For information regarding their opening hours and collections, please visit their Home Page and peruse their summary of archive holdings. They have on online catalogue containing information regarding their holdings. The Archive also hold many resources relating to family history, which include:
An on-line database of 19th Century prisoners at Bedford Gaol is accessible. An entry normally gives details about the criminal's name, age, height, hair colour, crime, dates of committal and trial and sentence. The database covers the period from 1801 to 1879, but there are gaps in the record.
You are required to make an appointment before visiting the Archive, and are requested to advise them of the material you wish to access in order to for them to ascertain if they are able to accommodate your visit on that day.
Parking at the Archive is limited, but if the car park is full, you may park across the road in Prebend Street Car Park. Prebend Street Car Park is free, but if this is full, there is a pay and display car park close to St Johns railway station in Melbourne Street.
Bedfordshire Record Office is a 10-15 minute walk from the bus and railway stations. The Park and Ride service serves Borough Hall.
If you are unable to visit the Archive in person, they offer a Research Service.
Whilst a readers ticket or ID is not normally required to visit the Archive, ID may be required if you wish to access certain records because of Data Protection Laws.